Despite their ballast - the AMR Vantage GTEs still look racy at the Temple of Speed

Saturday, July 09, 2022

After this afternoon’s qualifying, tomorrows FIA World Endurance Championship’s six hours of Monza is certainly going to be another entertaining affair within the GTE Am class as the three Aston Martin Racing Vantage GTE’s certainly look more than competitive than first anticipated at the Temple of Speed.

Thanks to their Championship successes last time out at Le Mans (and before at Spa), the #33 TF Sport prepared AMR of Ben Keating, Henrique Chaves and Marco Sorenson arrived in Italy with and additional 45kg of success ballast whilst the #98 Northwest AMR of Paul Dalla Lana, David Pittard and Nicki Thiim arrived with an additional 25kg.

At last weekend’s round of the European Le Mans Series that was ran at Monza, we witnessed the devasting effects of both success ballast and a detrimental downturn in turbo boost (BoP) available within the Vantage GTE runners that saw both Oman Racing with TF Sport prepared cars consigned to the rear of the pack by the end of their race weekend.

Thankfully within the WEC, there has been no change in their BoP since that of Le Mans so whilst the #33 and #98 cars will be carrying the literal weight of their previous successes, the #777 D’Station Racing car of Satoshi Hoshino, Tomonobu Fujii and Charlie Fagg will at least run this weekend at their cars original declared minimum base weight of 1237kg after their DNF in France.

With the thirty-eight strong grid again having built up momentum over the course of the three Free Practice sessions available to them so far this weekend, the three Astons rolled along the rollercoaster of improvement (or not) as their class ran to a maximum time tolerance of just 1.2 seconds across its thirteen runners as attention then turned to Qualifying.

Still under a baking sun with 29.5degree C ambient and a tyre melting 50 degree C track temperature, the two TF Sport prepared #33 and #777 cars were first onto track for their class’s opening ten-minute session with Keating looking cool, calm and consistent throughout, clocking up the fastest time in Am on only his second lap.

Contrastingly, both Hoshino and Dalla Lana had their opening laps deleted for track limits as well as Dalla Lana’s second making his fourth lap critical for an acceptable time. Fortunately, he kept that one clean to land himself a then P3 position as those who made it around in time for a fifth lap came around for the last time.

Looking good for another class pole position until the very end, the #85 Iron Dames Ferrari of Sarah Bovy came by to snatch that accolade at the death by just 0.227 of a second with the #98 finishing in P6 and the #777 in P9. Forever the gentleman, Keating was the first to congratulate Bovy for her WEC history making endeavours!!

Tomorrow morning will see the start of the six-hour race under what is forecasted to be even hotter track conditions. Tyre, driver and indeed crew management will be critical for all in those conditions as the pit lane will become like an oven for those having to work there. Also, that heat will play havoc with the tyres if the driver doesn’t take sufficient care of them from the off, and with all that additional success ballast to carry around – the tyres on the #33 and #98 cars will be screaming!!

Photo credits – Andrew Lofthouse / Drew Gibson

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